Tag Archives: decision to home school

Homeschool Decision Part 4: Time

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and final installment in a series regarding my decision to home school my three children.  Here are the links to the introduction, part 1 , part 2 and part 3

I confess that my decision to home school is not a simple matter of numbers and research. I understand that there are intangible concerns that can’t be researched and reconciled away.  These concerns start with, “aren’t you worried that your kids will drive you crazy?” and the simple answer to that question is “yes, yes I do.” I worry about implementing discipline in the classroom.  I worry that Lucy and Max won’t create an octagon of sibling rivalry where they act out every sinister impulse they have ever had towards each other.   However, I feel comforted that these obstacles will be overcome with a little bit of effort.

1.) Time.  The nice thing about not having 18 students, but only having 2, is that I can complete my school day in about 4-5 hours versus the 7-8 the school requires. This means the kids and I will be in the same room together for a short period of time.  This gives us more time for activities outside of the house like music lessons, gymnastics classes, bike rides, field trips, etc.

2.) Experience.  I’ve spoken with several home school families and I’ve read several books and they all say the same thing, which is that the first 3-4 months are an adjustment but the kids actually become calmer and more obedient.  This occurs because your kids are getting the constant reinforcement FROM YOU regarding what kind of behavior you expect from them.  Since children are naturally programmed to want to please their parents they pretty quickly fall into line. The other reason is that they don’t have the constant stimuli and distractions of 17 other 9 year old children.  The best book I read regarding these issues was “So You’re Thinking About Home School” by Lisa Whelchel (and yes, it is that Lisa from “Facts of Life”).  The book is a collection of essays written from different families who made the decision.  If you are thinking of home school, I would definitely start by finding and talking to other families who have made this choice already.

3.) I Actually Like My Kids.  One of the benefits of being an older mom is the greater awareness of the fleeting nature of time. I only have seven years left with Lucy.  SEVEN YEARS.  I have fifteen with Harper.  I have already lived 15 years almost three times over.  That is nothing and the idea that I will be spending more of that time with my kids instead of them being some place else is appealing to me.  The truth is I will be an old grandma and I probably won’t even be around for great grandchildren and so I need to suck all the fun and joy out of my own children’s childhoods.  I won’t have a second chance to do this.

In the end this is a very personal decision (like any other parenting choice).  Right now I feel that this is the best place for my kids.  Will I feel the same way in two years or three years or five years? I have no idea.  For those who want to learn more I’m providing you a list of links to some of the resources I have utilized to make this decision.

The Texas Home School Coalition – this is the Christian lobbying organization for home school families in Texas.

“The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child” by Linda Dobson – I loved this book and it was a great guide to what to expect that first year and how to prepare for it.

Penelope Trunk Blog –  Penelope Trunk is a career blogger, but she also home schools her two boys.  She also has Aspergers.  I like Penelope because she is very steeped in current research and like me, does little without first consulting the experts.  Be warned, this is not some warm fuzzy religious high moral home school blog.

SAIL – the Collin County Home School Co-op

PEACH – Plano Christian Home School Co-op

And of course, I must acknowledge the great support I have received both from David’s family and my own.  This is a controversial decision. For many people it is difficult to understand why I would do something that seems so drastic.  Hopefully this series of blog posts makes my thinking a bit easier to understand. If you still don’t agree – well, that is okay. We can totally still be friends.

Homeschool Decision Part 3: Socialization

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment in a series regarding my decision to home school my three children.  Here are the links to the introduction, part 1 and part 2

School is more than just reading, writing and arithmetic.  School is where we learn about standing up for ourselves.  It is frequently the first time we are exposed to people of different faith, values and culture.  It is also the place where we learn to challenge ourselves to succeed in an uncomfortable situation.  School is also where we learn about deadlines, timelines, and doing work because we HAVE to do it, not because we WANT to.   In other words, am I worried about my kids growing up to be socially awkward, insecure and incapable of functioning in society?

It is true that many people choose to home school out of a desire to raise their children in a societal bubble.  This is NOT what I want to do.  So then the question becomes how do you recreate this at home?  And are all home school kids really awkward and nuts?

The Numbers

In 2011, Dr. Richard G. Medlin, a professor and researcher of psychology at the University of North Carolina,  published a study in the Peabody Journal of Education regarding the socialization of home school students.  In this study he interviewed and surveyed adults who had been home schooled as children.  The conclusion of his study can be summed up with this quote:

“Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well. And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society”

This isn’t the only study that has come to this conclusion but it is the most recent and is the only study that includes the survey of adults.  Statistical research is all well and good but how do you guarantee this is going to happen?  Like all things with home school it comes down to the parent.

Clubs & Organizations

My children will continue to participate in the extra curricular activities that they have already been involved.  Their best friends will remain their friends with play dates and other activities that they already do together outside of school.  In addition to this my kids will be taking music lessons and we will be joining a home school co-op.

The home school co-op we will be joining is a non-religious group of 400+ families.  This co-op organizes field trips,  as well as science clubs, debate clubs, boy scout troops, girl scout troops, 4H clubs, and other activities. In addition the co-op format allows me to teach the children of other families in exchange for them to teach my children a possible subject that I don’t know as well.

The Law

And then Tim Tebow happened.  For those who don’t follow football, Tim Tebow was the winning quarterback from Florida State University.  He was home schooled.  He was heavily recruited and scouted by college football programs due to his participation in a public school football team.  Recently in Texas the “Tim Tebow Law” was passed.  This law says that public school systems are required to allow home school students to participate in all University Interscholastic League activities.  This includes things like speech clubs, athletic teams, band, orchestra, choir, debate, etc.

In addition to this, it has been proven that home school children usually mature faster because they spend more time in mixed age group settings.  In other words, they don’t spend 7 hours a day only around other 8 year old children telling fart jokes.  Then there is the obvious, no longer will I need to explain to my children why we don’t allow them to watch R rated movies in first grade, or deal with bullying.  And don’t you dare tell me that bullying is just “part of childhood” that forces us to be “stronger”.  No, it is a part of childhood that creates detrimental self talk that we all live with for the rest of our life.

Okay, so the academics are solid and there are plenty of resources to support my children socially but I know what you are thinking.  Are you crazy? Do you really want to spend that much time with your children? And how do you even start thinking about educating your own kids?  Well, I will talk about all of that in the next and last blog post on this subject.  If you have questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer them as honestly as I can.

Home School Decision Part 1: The Big Picture

When deciding to home school the kids this coming fall the first question I asked myself, which may seem obvious, was “what do I want my kids to get from their k-12 education?”  I suppose as a former project manager I can’t help but focus on the end goal.  What am I supposed to achieve at the end of my project?  What is the big picture?  My father used to say, “if you don’t know where you’re headed then how will you know if you’ve arrived?” What seemed like a simple question ended up being rather complex when I really thought about it.

We send our children to public school with what expectation?  That they will learn to read? They master reading by 2nd grade.  Learn to write? Also complete by 2nd grade.  No, it is more than that.  At the end of the day this is the list that I settled on:

  • College Readiness: I of course would like my children to achieve higher education and I would expect their K-12 education to prepare them for this level of course work.  This means their reading comprehension, study skills, and a certain breadth and depth of knowledge. Their ability to complete basic library research and understand the components of a basic sentence.
  • Fundamental Understanding of Core Subjects: math, reading, writing, science.  But I also want them to know geography, government, literature, history, social studies, philosophy, etc.  They need a strong foundation in a variety of subjects.  It is this combination of subjects that provides them with a lens through which they can see and understand the world.
  • Citizenship: I would like my children to learn how to be contributing members of society, which means instructing them in the value of hard work, community service, and government.  This also means learning to be tolerant, respectful and polite.
  • Critical thinking: I want my children to challenge assumptions and think for themselves.  In an age of media overload I want them to be discerning in their reading and research.  My parents encouraged me to question EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY and I would like that same curiosity to be encouraged in my own children.
  • Variety of life experiences: I want my kids to have the ability to participate in non-academic pursuits – athletics, the fine arts, school government, etc.  The humanities have always been a big part of my life (and David’s) and I want my children to be exposed to this variety.
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World:  I don’t want them to live in a bubble (I know, you are shocked by this because I’ve chose to home school and isn’t that what all home schoolers want? a bubble). I want them to know a Buddhist, Atheist, Muslim, Sikh, Jew, Black, Hispanic, Gay, Asian.  I want them to “eat from the banquet of life” -to love and appreciate the rainbow of the world and why it all works together to create something bountiful and beautiful. I want them to know that their heritage and their values are not the only ones that exist.  I want them to not be afraid of “the different” but to embrace it.

I will be the first to admit that this is a tall order, even for the public schools to fulfill.  It is nearly an impossible order when you consider the constraints under which the school system functions.  When I started down this path I was trying to prove that home school was NOT the right decision and so I was trying very hard to give the public schools a fair shake.  I looked at this list and I assigned a grade for each item, reflecting how well I thought the school was doing at accomplishing these goals. The school system ended up with a 2.16 GPA – they received 2 Ds, 2 Cs, 1 B and 1 A.  And the A was in “Knowledge of the World” and the B was in “Variety of Life Experiences” — the recess of the school system.  So yes, the school was getting an A in recess but failing everything else.

I am not pulling my children out of school to isolate them.  The fact that my son learned the F-word in 1st grade is bothersome, but I can parent around that.  The fact that girls in Lucy’s 3rd grade class are watching YouTube videos, unsupervised, on french kissing is troubling but I can parent through that as well.  I can even parent through bullying and “mean girls”.  But it is not worth the effort of dealing with all of these social nightmares when the academics aren’t performing.  At the end of the day the only good thing my kids were getting out of the school system was something they could receive at an afternoon on a soccer field or the Girl Scouts. I definitely don’t need the school to insure that my children are exposed to a variety of cultures or to expose them to a variety of life experiences.  I am fully capable of doing that part myself.

The next thing I looked at was how were the academics — really.  I had my perceptions based on the results I see as a college professor and what I see coming home as a parent, but I realize that I am not objective.   The next blog post will look at the academics.